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‘Best Solution’ for PPR: Weinberg Stands Behind New Strategy for Gucci

With the expected announcement of Gucci Group’s successors to Tom Ford, PPR chief Serge Weinberg discussed the multidesigner strategy.

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“I don’t think this debate between known designers and unknown designers is a valid one,” he said, assuring that the four unknown talents “will bring something new to the world of fashion. We are convinced that they have the creativity and the design talent to become the stars of tomorrow.”

During a question-and-answer period, Weinberg and Giacomo Santucci, president and ceo of Gucci, were peppered with questions relating to keeping Gucci’s unified image with a trio of designers. Leading the charge of detractors was Claire Kent, chief luxury analyst at Morgan Stanley, who titled her report, co-authored by retail analyst Rebecca Davis, “Is Three a Crowd?” It blasts PPR for failing to “put its neck on the line” and hire one creative leader.

“There are few highly successful brands in the world of fashion where there is not an overall creative director, and this multiple director strategy is antithetical to the very one that made Gucci highly successful, namely a single brand vision, which encompassed everything from the company’s business cards to the product,” the report said. It continued by saying that Pilati’s appointment at YSL seemed “illogical” because “PPR has been publicly critical of Ford’s repositioning at YSL.”

But others said elevating internal designers ensures continuity at Gucci and YSL.

“It’s probably the best solution as far as I’m concerned and I don’t expect to see major changes in direction,” said Sagra Maceira de Rosen, analyst at J.P. Morgan in London. “These are people who know the brands and who any other brand would be lucky to have. It is risky, but it would have been just as risky bringing in a Marc Jacobs, a [John] Galliano or an Alexander McQueen, any designer with an already distinct point of view. The advantage is these people already know their brands.”

Commenting on the foursome, Ford praised them as “very talented designers. I hired each of them and have tremendous faith in their abilities. I wish them the best of luck in their new roles.”

Santucci argued that three designers, each dedicated to a single product category, were needed to ensure continued growth at Gucci, whose volume is already in excess of $1.86 billion (converted from 1.5 billion euros at current exchange). “The leadership of the brand is given by the brand itself,” he said. “It took us a long time to build the Gucci essence, which consists of Italian craftsmanship, glamour and sexiness. These three designers helped fuel the success and define Gucci’s essence.”
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